Tech Talk: 5 Best Practices for Onboarding Remote Employees 



Tips & Tricks for Onboarding Remote Employees

The convergence of digital transformation initiatives and the impact of Covid-19 has driven working from home or remote work to its highest ever adoption. According to research from Gallup, 62% of U.S. employees are working from home now and once the pandemic subsides, the work-from-home trend may very well continue. 

Researchers estimate that 56% of the U.S. workforce already holds a job that is either somewhat or very compatible with remote work.  Regardless of why people are working remotely, the loss of direct, face-to-face interactions makes onboarding new remote employees into the organization has been more challenging than ever. 

HR teams are not only responsible for coordinating colleagues, schedules, and remote workstation set-up, but they’re also expected to make onboarding feel welcoming and seamless for the new hire. New hires want to integrate with their new team and begin contributing as soon as possible. Onboarding is their first experience with their new team, and the HR team is responsible for getting them off on the right foot.

Taking the time and preparing a substantial remote onboarding experience pays off. The Society for Human Resource Management suggests that new employees who attend an orientation are as much as 69% more likely to stay with the company for three years. That’s probably because intentional onboarding allows managers to set clear expectations for employees and equips them for success. Here’s how you can do it too — even when most of the staff isn’t presently working in the office.


5 best practices for remote onboarding 

Here are five best practices for creating an immersive, in-person onboarding experience, regardless of the location. 


1.  Use tech to streamline new hire paperwork.

In the days leading up to a new employee’s first day on the job, and the week following, a lot of information must be gathered. Whether it’s I9 and W-2 forms, direct bank deposit information, or benefit elections and other personal data, it takes some effort to integrate a new employee into your HR records.

Manually printing, signing, and filing paper documents (especially sending them to remote locations) can be a time-consuming endeavor. But with a centralized, automated HCM system, the process can be streamlined and efficient by digitizing documents, enabling online completion, submission, and digital signing that make the first step in the onboarding process easier on everyone. 


2.  Hang the welcome banner.

An employee’s first day sets the tone for the rest of their tenure, and you don’t get a do over. Instead of setting up a welcome banner at their desk, send your remote new hire a welcome card and branded company gift and make sure to:

  1. Plan for the package to arrive on or before their first day

  2. Schedule a team welcome call

  3. Invite team members to join you in making the new hire feel part of the team

  4. Don’t forget to give the new hire advance notice about the call!

This warm welcome is an essential step in communicating your company’s culture and values to a new hire—regardless of their location.


3.  Enroll the new hire in relevant training.

Using your HCM, enroll your newest team member in an online orientation experience as well as fundamental training content. Set up enrollment in advance, so the newcomer has it waiting for them on their first day and provide a breakdown of the types of courses they’ll need to complete, along with an expected timeline for finishing them.

4.  Take a tour of your tech platforms.

From file sharing to project management software to instant messaging apps, make time to give the new hire a virtual tour of the tech solutions your team uses. Emphasize the ways you use each tool to stay in touch, manage timelines, or get work done — especially when you’re not in the same location. Just as a new employee might stop by someone’s desk to ask a question, let them know they can do the same with an instant message, group chat, or any other method of collaboration your teams prefer.


5.  Schedule regular check-in meetings with your new employee.

Many organizations focus onboarding for the first week and leave it at that. But Harvard Business Review research shows that as much as 20% of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment, which means it’s critical that your employees’ integration experiences continue on beyond the initial few days of onboarding.

Ongoing programs don’t need to be elaborate or time-consuming. In fact, something as simple as a scheduled check-in with a manager or team member can make a big difference for someone new to the organization. Make sure you put these meetings on the calendar and commit to making them happen.


Remote onboarding for new employees is a pivotal step in keeping a team together, functioning as a cohesive unit, and continuing to move the business forward even in a challenging and unpredictable work landscape created by the COVID-19 crisis. Until things return to normal — or whatever normal will look like once the pandemic subsides — organizations should continue to look for ways of empowering their HR teams to work more efficiently in gathering the necessary resources and documentation, interact more directly and deeply with new hires, and enable an in-person like experience for new team members.

Learn how to streamline your onboarding practices with an HCM or schedule your free personalized demo to see it in action.  

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Liz Sheffield

Liz Sheffield

Liz Sheffield is a writer and communicator based in Seattle, WA. She specializes in writing about topics related to HR and the people side of the business. Her areas of interest include HR Tech, HCM, leadership, training and development, employee engagement, culture, and recognition. Sheffield brings more than a decade of corporate experience in HR.

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